COLUMBIA, Mo- On Friday, a collection of Missouri’s defensive coaching staff and players addressed the media via zoom.
T-36 days til opening kick off. It sounds a lot farther away than it actually is. Just try and think about it like this; that’s 36 more days to get better. 36 more days to prepare for what should be one of the most interesting home openers Mizzou football will ever see. With all that time on their hands, Mizzou’s coaching staff has no excuses come game time.
Today we caught up with a few of Mizzou’s sideline play-callers. Linebackers coach, DJ Smith, gave us some insight on the guys at his position and how they’ve been looking so far throughout camp. Coach Smith says besides Nick Bolton - who will most certainly be the anchor of this year’s Tiger defense - there are three other guys working their way into the mix: Aubrey Miller, Devin Nicholson, and Chad Bailey. Coach Smith also let us know that at no point during this offseason did he hear from Bolton about potentially opting out of the season due to Covid-19. Bolton was later asked the same question and responded like a fully-realized team captain would, saying, “I have more to prove this season and haven’t even thought about opting out. I feel like I’m a leader on this football team...I come in early and stay late. I lead by example.”
Defensive Line coach and holdover from the Odom regime, Brick Haley, had a minute to sit in. Coach Haley kept his media time brief but mentioned that one of the D-line’s biggest focuses this year was to record sacks, which would be a nice thing to have since Mizzou finished last in the SEC last season with only 19 sacks for a total of 129 yards lost. Coach Haley said that for every 12 pass attempts he expects his D-line to record at least 2 sacks. That would be a tremendous leap from last year if he and his guys can manage to pull it off.
Finally, Defensive Coordinator Ryan Walters joined us to give an update on how his defense is looking. “Overall, I feel like we’re in a good spot for how early it is,” Walters said. He also mentioned that he’s very confident with 8 starters returning to this year’s defense. Walters likes the amount of talent that Mizzou has at the cornerback position this year and is assured that they’ll be able to fill the hole with DeMarkus Acy gone.
From the players today, defensive end Tre Williams cracked a couple of jokes to keep spirits high on today’s zoom call. He was also the first to say that he’ll be repping #0 this year rather than last years #93. When asked why the switch he responded by saying, “Now that you can wear the number zero, I just felt the need to wear zero and ball out in it; remember I said that.” The confidence is certainly oozing out of of Williams this time of the year, and we’ll see if he can back it up come game time. Safety Martez Manuel hopped on the call as well and spoke highly of teammates on defense. Manuel said if he could build a better version of himself it would include the leadership of Nick Bolton, the wit and creativity of Joshua Bledsoe and the motor in Tre Williams. Manuel currently plays safety alongside Bledsoe and Gillespie and says the increase in playing time he’s gotten has wildly bettered his game so far through camp.
No updates from Drink today, but assuming that will change by the end of this weekend. MIZ, BABY...